Week 4 of the NFL season is here, and teams continue to assess injuries to their players ahead of game time.
The San Francisco 49ers have suffered another blow to their offense, as star left tackle Trent Williams is expected to be out four to six weeks with an ankle injury. Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair will miss time after he sprained an MCL against the Denver Broncos. The New York Giants also lost a key offensive player after wide receiver Sterling Shepard tore an ACL against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, ending his season.
The New England Patriots will be without quarterback Mac Jones, who suffered a high ankle sprain last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Veteran Brian Hoyer will start Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. He has lost 11 consecutive starts.
In more positive news, New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is expected to make his 2022 debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Wilson has been out since the first game of the preseason because of a torn meniscus and a bone bruise in his right knee.
Our NFL Nation reporters have more updates on key players entering the weekend:
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Patterson is officially listed as questionable on the team’s injury report, but he told ESPN on Friday that he plans on playing against the Cleveland Browns.
“I feel like I’m going to play every Sunday, no matter what the situation is,” Patterson said. “I plan on playing Sunday and we all know that’s the plan.”
Patterson, the NFL’s third-leading rusher, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and was listed as a “resting player/knee.” He returned to practice Friday, did work on a limited basis and then was listed as questionable with a knee injury.
Coach Arthur Smith said Friday that Patterson “looked good,” but that he would assess Patterson’s status Saturday.
— Michael Rothstein
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Baltimore Ravens
Stanley, who is officially listed as questionable, said he’s “really close” to returning after missing 31 of the past 32 games. He was given a rest day Friday after fully practicing the previous two days. The Ravens could use the 2019 All-Pro left tackle to protect Lamar Jackson’s blind side. If Stanley can’t play, Baltimore would turn to rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Faalele to block Von Miller.
— Jamison Hensley
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
Barring a setback, McCaffrey should be able to go on Sunday after missing Wednesday and Thursday’s practices. McCaffrey returned to practice Friday in a limited role, and coach Matt Rhule said he was “hopeful” his star would be ready. McCaffrey gave no indication he wouldn’t be ready. “I feel great,” he said.
— David Newton
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Let’s call this take two. It seemed like Gallup would make his debut last Monday against the New York Giants but he wanted some more time to feel right before coming back. He has had another week of full practices, although the Cowboys were not in pads at all this week. Gallup said he needed to clear a mental hurdle in coming back from the surgery. It appears he is trending toward playing vs. Washington, but he will work his way into the lineup on a snap count. They will not give him the full assortment of plays right away, so Noah Brown will continue as the No. 2 receiver with Gallup seeing something of a situational role. Tight end Dalton Schultz is also trending in the right direction of playing after missing the Giants game with a knee sprain. He has worn a brace in practice, and like Gallup, he might be limited in the number of snaps he plays until he is all the way back.
— Todd Archer
Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers
Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer might have it a little easier if the Packers’ best coverage defensive back doesn’t play. Alexander dropped out of last week’s game at Tampa Bay, did not appear to do much in practice all week and is questionable for Sunday. Rasul Douglas moved from the slot to the outside after Alexander’s injury, and Keisean Nixon filled in in the slot.
— Rob Demovsky
Shaquille Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts
Leonard is listed as questionable for the first time this season after being ruled out in the previous three games. The recovery from Leonard’s offseason back surgery has lingered, but the tide turned this week.
“He’s had three pretty good days, continued to make progress,” coach Frank Reich said. “So, let’s see how he responds.”
If Leonard plays, the Colts might consider limiting his snaps. “The original thought was he would probably start out on a pitch count, but you don’t want to limit yourself. You just take it day by day and case by case and you kind of adapt as you go,” Reich said.
DeForest Buckner, DT
Buckner is considered questionable and has been severely limited this week. But his history of playing while injured suggests that he’ll find a way to show up on Sunday. Buckner has missed just one game due to injury in his seven seasons.
Julian Blackmon, S
The Colts’ starting free safety will miss Sunday’s game with an ankle sprain, a development that will likely press seventh-round pick Rodney Thomas II into action. Thomas played well in last week’s game after Blackmon left the contest and impressed coaches.
— Stephen Holder
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Allen suffered a hamstring injury in Week 1, was inactive in Week 2 and 3 and will remain on the sideline Sunday when the Chargers play the Texans. Earlier in the week, coach Brandon Staley expressed growing confidence that Allen would return in Week 4, but said Friday that the veteran receiver “felt something” during individual workouts, so he has been ruled out.
— Lindsey Thiry
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